Pope records Christmas Eve Thought for the Day

The Pope is to deliver Thought for the Day on Radio 4 for Christmas Eve tomorrow.

Former station controller Mark Damazer said earlier this year that persuading Pope Benedict XVI to make an appearance was on his wish list.

The Papal visit to the UK three months ago passed without a message being recorded, however, he recorded his contribution in Rome early yesterday. It will be broadcast at about 7.45am during tomorrow's Today programme.

New Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams said: "I'm delighted Pope Benedict is sharing his Christmas message with the Radio 4 audience.

"It's significant that the Pope has chosen Thought for the Day to give his first personally scripted broadcast – and what better time to do so than on the eve of one of the biggest celebrations on the Christian calendar."

Thought For The Day allows speakers from a range of faiths to give personal reflections and has been broadcast since 1970.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, attacked the BBC over the decision.

"After the overkill from the BBC during the Pope's visit, this indicates the Corporation's obsession with religion, whereas the nation is largely indifferent to it."

But Ella Leonard, of the group Catholic Voices, said: "As we experienced during his visit in September, his message is for everyone. This programme is the only daily slot in the national broadcast media reserved for religious speakers."